“The support of the Agitos Foundation is fundamental to make this project a reality and we are thrilled with the opportunities this grant has given us, including the possibility to invite other South American nations to join us in our dreams,”
An innovative project to uncover new cross-country skiers and biathletes in Brazil is underway, having successfully attracted nearly 80 people in the balmy climbs of Latin America.
Whilst the rest of the county is preparing to host the regions’ first summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the Brazilian Snowsport Federation and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee have been finding ways to attract new winter athletes - through roller-skiing.
Thanks to funding received as part of the Agitos Foundation’s 2015 Grant Support Programme (GSP), three workshops were held in August and September in partnership with Associação de Pais e Amigos de Portadores de Deficiência do Banco do Brasil (APABB), Dorina Nowill Foundation and Programa de Esportes e Atividades Motoras Adaptadas (PEAMA) in Jundiai and Sao Paulo.
In the sessions, participants had the chance to try roller-skiing and meet Sports and Leisure Town Clerk Cristiano Vecchi and national cross-country skiers Fernando Aranha and Gustavo Souza.
Local media also took a keen interest, with TV Jundiaí and Jornal de Jundiai covering the event.
“Brazil has ambitious goals in para-cross country and biathlon, aiming to participate in the Paralympic Games in 2026,” Stefano Arnhold, President of the Brazilian Snowsport Federation said. “Roller-skis have proved to be not only an excellent training tool, but also the ideal first contact for cross-country and biathlon in a tropical country.”
Seven of those who took part, including people with visual impairment, amputees and wheelchair users, were identified as having a talent for the sport and advanced to further training in Jundiai in early October.
They will now benefit from further sessions over the coming months, whilst the Federation also try to attract other countries from the region to the programme.
“The support of the Agitos Foundation is fundamental to make this project a reality and we are thrilled with the opportunities this grant has given us, including the possibility to invite other South American nations to join us in our dreams,” Arnhold said.
The conclusion of the project will be highlighted by a trip to the world-famous para-snow sport Riderrennet Festival in Norway for two of the best performers to experience competition and real snow.
The Agitos Foundation is the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee and has given nearly EUR 2 million to grass-roots development projects through the GSP since 2013.
TV Jundiaí (local television channel).